"Children of Eden" - Some Observations
Tonight I finally saw Children of Eden. It's a musical loosely based on the book of Genesis. You may find it strange that I'm only seeing it now, since I'm listed in the program as a Co-Producer. Let me explain.
I did help out early in the process of rehearsing the show, but I knew my real-life work was going to keep me from helping out for long, so early on I turned my duties over to the more-than-able hands of my co-producers, Clint McElroy and Jeanette Bills. My job has had me on the run in recent weeks, and tonight was my first chance to see the entire show.
Now, I can't really review the show since I can hardly claim to be impartial about it - but I can tell you that if you miss this one, you're missing a fantastic musical. I had never seen COE before, and I'm glad that's no longer the case. It's filled with fantastic songs and outstanding performances.
Among the standouts (and there are many):
- My pal Clint McElroy, who plays "Father" and delivers his most impressive vocal performance to date (and that's saying something).
- The incredibly talented Brittany Hazeldine plays the part of Eve and fills the role with energy and life. Her heartbreaking song at the end of Act I brought the audience to tears (including your otherwise manly blogger here).
- Playing Adam is Scott Burner, who's always been a terrific performer, but turns in his best performance yet in this show as the sympathetic father of man.
- Elliot Imlay gets to show off both his fantastic vocal skills and his acting intensity as the troubled Cain.
- T.J. Thompson gets some great laughs and shows off his own strong vocals as the tragic Able.
- Maggie Saunders brings down the house as Noah's wife in the song "Ain't It Good?" (the answer: yes, it is).
- Chris Crawford also turns in his best performance yet (and some excellent, heartfelt solos) as Noah, who must make some difficult decisions.
- Mary Kate Young is another performer who has a number of terrific performances on her resume, but I really think this is her best yet, as she plays Yonah, the young woman who threatens to tear a family apart. It's a sweet, sensitive performance with a wonderful solo.
- Josh Meredith is having a great year on stage, and it continues as he plays Japheth, the son of Noah who's in love with Yonah. It may be his most sensitive and "grown-up" role to date, and he plays it with great intensity. It goes without saying that he's also a terrific singer and dancer with great stage presence.
- The show also features outstanding ensemble work by a talented bunch, including Elijah Boyles, Katy Pettit, John Purcell, Shainia Carter, Kristin Caviani, Kate Colclough, Rose Colclough, Diane Dawley, Emily Dennison, Andrew Edwards, Caroline Hunter, Kylie Magner, Rachel Meadows, Elizabeth Schmitz, Rileigh Smirl, Holly Smith, Jacob Smith, Cody Verbage, Emileigh Wilson, Samantha Young and Brian Zepp.
Special kudos to the outstanding work by the tech crew and the directing team, including choreographer Mary Smirl, music director Mark Smith, children's choir director Joanna Bokovitz, tech director Michael Sullivan (who provided the photo above), and (of course) outstanding work by director Jack Cirillo, who has crafted a show that is a joy and a wonder.
All this and I haven't had a chance to mention the amazing costumes or the impressive set.
Remember, you have one more chance to see the show - Sunday at 2 p.m. - and last night's show was a sell-out, so get there early and don't miss this one!